We don’t have a damn clue what to do about pain.
So, we run from it. We avoid it. We repress it. We ignore it. We hide from it. And then when it sneaks up on us, breaks our walls and penetrates the well-constructed barriers around our hearts, we let it consume us.
And it’s downright terrifying.
But I’ve learned something, through several bouts of both drawn out and unexpected darkness, there’s something really beautiful about pain.
Pain makes you question everything, and we need moments in our lives that make us question the way things are.
Think about the times you have experienced extreme pain– noting that could very well be right now.
When someone abandons or betrays you, it makes you consider the amount of trust you invest in others and the requirements you set for giving that trust out. It makes you question the why and how associated with someone you cared about hurting you. It causes you to realize that depending on and investing your happiness solely in another individual is an irresponsible way to treat your precious heart.
When someone that you love loses their life unexpectedly, it makes you question the way you evaluate and consider the gift of being alive. It makes you question if you show others the love that they deserve while you have the chance. It makes you question God, and why bad things really do happen to good people. It makes you question the relationships you have and the decisions you make, probably more than you ever had before.
When you experience devastating failure and rejection, it makes you question where you want to go, and where you’re supposed to go. It makes you question your career choices, your priorities, and your goals. It makes you reassess what matters to you and what you’re meant to accomplish in this life.
And most importantly, when you lose yourself, it makes you question who you are. And surprisingly, it’s good to question who you are. We need moments that force us to do that. Questioning who you are immediately enables the kind of reflection we don’t naturally achieve when we are feeling happy and secure. It allows you to dive deeply into yourself, into all the dark and musty corners of your brokenness.
You’re forced to think about who you truly are, and who you actually want to be.
Answering those two questions is an extremely challenging journey. It sends pangs of fear and discomfort down your spine over and over before it brings you any amount of peace. It pushes you into deep bouts of depression, anger, self-doubt and confusion. It presses you into areas of yourself you’ve never discovered. But once you find them, you feel it.
It’s strange, and damn does it surprise you at first. It sneaks up on you, after days, months, even years of fighting through the pain and heartbreak you have been desperately trying to overcome. It changes everything.
What you find is gratitude.
Gratitude is the light at the end of the tunnel of pain and desperation. It’s what every difficult experience you encounter is ultimately about. It’s the cure to any of life’s ailments.
When you find peace within the darkness, you achieve true gratitude.
You’re thankful for the people that came into your life and what they taught you, even if the lessons were hurtful at the time. You’re grateful for the love that you’ve lost, because you know all love is better than no love at all. You’re grateful for the rejections and failures because you know they set you on the path you were meant to be on. You’re grateful for the time you had with the people you loved before they left this life, because you know they were such an incredible blessing.
You’re grateful for the moments that you felt inexplicably and devastatingly lost, because you know that is what helped you find your true self.
And in some crazy, semi-twisted way, you’re even grateful for the pain itself. Because it made you strong. It made you better understand what life is really about. It made you love yourself. It made you realize you’re capable of anything, and nothing can break you.
So if you’re in that pain right now, as so many of us are, try to understand that this time is not only temporary, but necessary. Try to understand that God only gives us what we can handle, and furthermore only gives us what we are meant to handle.
Your pain is beautiful, and so are you. One day soon, you will see that too.